Closing the gap on deep body mods



Despite 1 in 5 Australians now having a tattoo and the high demand of cosmetic procedures, the increasingly popular practice of deep body modification remains largely ignored by the legal system in Queensland.

Since it’s introduction as a cosmetic procedure in Queensland in the 1990’s, the practise of deep body modification has slowly gained traction in Brisbane subcultures.

Deep body modification is a surgical procedure that deliberately alters the appearance of the human body by removing, reshaping or adding features, such as horns.

The lack of regulation surrounding DBM procedures in Queensland legislation allows minors to undergo the alterations, including procedures such as beading and scarification.

Currently, the legislation states that the client may undergo procedures if they are deemed by the artist to have ‘sound and reasoned judgement’. If the client decides to sue, the onus of proof rests on the artist performing the modification.

Body modification artists in other countries have previously come under legal fire for performing procedures. A tattoo artist in the U.K was persecuted for three counts of Grevious Bodily Harm in February this year for performing DBM procedures, including splitting a clients tongue and removing a nipple. The artist, ‘Dr. Evil’, was later released on bail but was banned from doing modifications.

The artists themselves are also under regulated. Currently, an infection control qualification is the only necessary legal document to perform the procedures in Queensland.

As a result, more serious body modifications such as tongue splitting, cheek gauging and scleral tattooing, are categorised alongside the more common practice of lobe stretching in Queensland legislation. This is despite some procedures carrying a much higher risk than others.

Tongue split
Ms. Luke has spent over $2500
on body modifications
Photo: Amber Luke

Brisbane based Instagram personality and DBM advocate Amber Luke, aka the Blue Eyed White Dragon, believes body modification is an empowering decision that is slowly gaining popularity in mainstream society.

“It’s increasing in popularity as people are starting to open their minds more and have started to realise that life is too short not to be yourself,” Ms Luke said.

The Blue Eyed White Dragon has so far undergone scleral tattooing and tongue splitting, which was done by body modification artist BSlicedotcom. She was required to sign a waiver prior to both procedures.

“You have to sign a waiver to protect both him and you, you’re agreeing and giving 100% consent to him to altercate your body. The waiver states that it is my responsibility to take care of the body mod but he is [still] there literally every moment I need him,” Ms Luke said.

She believes legislation is an important step in creating a safe environment for artists and clients to explore identity through DBM.

“High risk procedures are quite expensive due to that reason, but I feel like the artist needs to have a legislation governing their practises” Ms Luke said.

“If you have an artist that has over ten years experience [like BSlicedotcom] they should have a regulated law to protect them as well as the client,” she said.

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